It's not quite the Jetsonian world of flying cars imagined by futurists in the 50s, but a new crop of motor vehicles is pushing transportation forward by giant leaps.
California state legislature approved a bill last week that will allow autonomous vehicles, like Google's self-driving "robot car," to hit roads and highways in as little as two years.
The bill, authored by California state senator Alex Padilla, was unanimously passed by the state senate last Thursday.
If the bill wins Governor Jerry Brown's stamp of approval, California will become the second state with legal, self-driving cars on the road.
Nevada became the first when it issued three autonomous-vehicle licences to Google in May.
Many predict that Brown will sign the bill. As the Economist points out, 90 per cent of all traffic accidents are caused by human error. San Jose's Mercury News, which has been following the story closely, pegs this rate at an even higher 99 per cent.
The theory goes that if humans are taken out of the driving process, accident rates could plummet.
"It sounds space age, but it's almost here," Padilla told Mercury News. "If we can reduce the number of accidents, that alone is worth doing this bill."
Another state senator, Alan Lowenthal, told Reuters that he had tested one of Google's vehicles. "There are some still issues with it, but it's a better driver than I am," he said.
According to the legislature, if this bill is passed, California's Department of Motor Vehicles will have until 2015 to create a set of standards and rules for self-driving cars. Currently, none exist.
In Nevada, these rules include always having a human behind the wheel in case something goes wrong, and clearly marking self-driven cars with red plates.
"Self-driving cars have the potential to significantly increase driving safety," said Google in a statement issued Wednesday night after the news was passed down.
Engadget reports that the states of Hawaii, Florida, Arizona and Oklahoma are all also considering similar legislation.
What's your take on self-driving cars? Would you like to see this type of technology in Canada?
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